Ducati 'currently' has no further plans regarding the new MotoGP Open class and will be comparing Factory class bikes at Sepang, the team has declared.
Reports from Italy earlier this week suggested that new Ducati Corse general manager Gigi Dall'Igna was in favour of switching all of the Ducati entries to the Open class. The shock move would allow benefits in terms of extra race fuel, engine changes, in-season engine development and possibly a softer rear tyre - but require use of the complete control ECU.
Comments by Andrea Dovizioso
also indicated that the move was under serious consideration - following a positive comparison between the two types of machine at Jerez in November - and would be investigated further at Sepang.
At present, Yonny Hernandez is the only rider scheduled to race an Open class Desmosedici this season. The other Ducati riders - Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow at the official team, plus Andrea Iannone at Pramac - are listed as Factory entries.
Asked to confirm if the factory Ducati team will be testing the Open bike at Sepang and if there is any chance at all of a switch to the Open class by the factory team in 2014, Ducati gave the following statement to Crash.net
“Ducati thinks that it is important to explore the potential of the new 'Open' regulations, also because this should be the future technical direction of the MotoGP Championship, and for this reason has decided this year to enter one GP13 bike with Yonny Hernandez for Pramac Racing Team under these rules.
“Currently there are no further plans regarding the 'Open' option and all the other Ducati GP riders will conduct back-to-back tests comparing the GP13 and GP14 'Factory' bikes in the first Sepang test from the 4th to the 6th of February.”
The Open class is replacing the previous CRT (Claiming Rule Team) privateer category, with machinery no longer subject to a claiming rule.
Although the new Open class machines from Honda and Yamaha will be of a lower spec than the Factory versions, for cost reasons, the only required difference between the two classes in terms of the technical regulations is use of the standard ECU. The Open Pramac Ducati has thus been created by fitting the ECU to last year's (Factory spec) GP13.
While the Open class must run the full control ECU, Factory entries can continue using their own software, inside the Magneti Marelli hardware. The price for Factories keeping their software includes four litres less race fuel and five instead of twelve engine changes.
From 2014, there will also be a development freeze on Factory engine design and internal parts during the season.
Given the growing list of Factory class disadvantages, plus the perception that the full control ECU system will eventually be made mandatory, it is perhaps unsurprising that Ducati - without a podium last year, for the first time since joining MotoGP in 2003 - is rumoured to be considering a switch.